Taking care of your loved one in need of long-term treatment by yourself, you need to take under account that this may expose you to many different emotions – this concerns your emotions, as well as the person’s who is looked after. These are often strong and extreme; one is quite often likely to face mood swings.
What feelings are the most frequent?
Person looked after
The person looked after usually focuses on his or her own emotions, but the carer has to look after his own emotions, as well as after the emotions of his loved one.
How to look after your healthy emotions?
Forget the stereotypes
Forget the stereotypes you know about disability, illnesses or impairments. It’s not easy, but only by breaking through our untrue beliefs we can face the challenge that is upon us. Getting rid of those thinking patterns will help you avoid trying to make the person you look after happy against his or her will by suggesting solutions, which you only consider to be right in a given situation. It will be easier for you to remain objective and refrain from treating person you look after in an undesirable way.
Overcome the shame
Overcome the shame connected with the physiology of another person. Help your patient overcome that shame as well. It is a very difficult and delicate subject matter. Regardless whether you aid everyday hygiene, or you carry out the whole hygiene routine, remember how embarrassing it is to show oneself in the nude to other people, especially when the body is not at its best. Be gentle with what you say and do.
Be empathic – imagine what a person you look after feels and try to understand it. Try to imagine how you would feel in such circumstances, and think how to create positive feelings about the situation. Observe and listen to the person you are looking after – every person requires a different approach – try to provide your loved one with what he or she exactly needs.
Be ready to experience mood swings
Be ready to experience mood swings – this concerns you and your loved one. Try to realise that you have the right to experience various emotions. It is worth to be aware of that. Use the positive feelings to bond, build mutual trust, and motivate each other. Try to find safe ways to manage negative emotions:
- sense of humour and jokes are an excellent way to maintain a positive approach and help to ease tension,
- reminding about the positive therapy or rehabilitation effects is motivating,
- shouting out your frustration, controlled aggression (for example punching pillows) may come as a useful safety valve in some situations,
- crying is sometimes relieving and helps to clear the mind of negative emotions.
Never exploit the advantage you have over the person you look after
Never exploit the advantage you have over the person you look after. Remember that often it is already embarrassing, or uncomfortable for that person, to be dependent on someone. Use your strength to your loved one’s advantage – motivate and transmit positive energy.
Never use violence
Never use violence – physical nor verbal. Your violence shows your helplessness – you are hurting yourself and your loved one acting in such a way.
Be assertive – respect the rights of your loved one, but be respectful to yourself as well. Don’t do everything for your loved one, especially when his or her condition allows performing everyday activities. See how much joy it brings them to be independent.
Remember that a gesture can be more meaningful than words
Remember that a gesture can be more meaningful than words. You can calm down or soothe your loved one with touch, a compassionate look, a smile. Such moments help to calm down, bring ease, and can lift one’s mood.
Follow some simple rules
Follow these simple rules in order to avoid your loved one’s negative reactions:
- The person you look after should be aware of what you are going to do – keep him or her informed about the activities you are about to do.
- Fidgety moves of the carer make your loved one nervous and may cause him or her to resist – try to do everything in a calm and easy way.
- When speaking to someone else never talk in such a way as if the person you are looking after is not there – if the conversation concerns that person, he or she has the right to take part in it.
- Do not relieve that person of every activity – let him/her decide for himself (within reason).
- Remain calm and have a positive attitude – the carer’s mood influences the mood of the loved one’s.
A well rested carer is an effective carer
A well rested carer is an effective carer. You have to recharge your batteries and take a break from everyday worries once in a while. Try to organise your time and get at least a few hours just for yourself to take care of your own needs. Don’t isolate from society, don’t give up your social life, meet your friends from time to time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t have anyone close to carry out your duties, try to find someone else – maybe there are organizations near you that could offer help. Some of the organizations gather volunteers or professional caregivers, who might attend to your loved one for a couple of hours. Don’t try to deal with everything on your own – it may be more than you can take.
You can consult a psychologist
You can consult a psychologist if you can’t handle your emotions – consulting a professional, who can look at the whole situation from a perspective, can really change your attitude towards it, and can help you find a way to help you restore control over your emotions. A conversation with a priest often helps people of faith. There are also many associations or support groups that can help you when you are having a hard time.
Look after your body
Look after your body – looking after your loved one is sometimes exhausting, so it is worth to strengthen your body by taking exercise. Pay special attention to your back, especially if you have to move your loved one many times a day. Try to rest as often as possible using different relaxation techniques. Music therapy brings positive results for you and for the person you look after. Music can give you the peace of mind and enhances your mood.
Consider all the pros and cons
Consider all the pros and cons when you have to make the decision of putting your loved one in a long-term care institution – a care home, a hospice or a residence. Sometimes it is the best solution for everybody, so don’t blame yourself if you decide to put your loved one in a special institution. Nevertheless, try to make your loved one feel that he or she is not left alone – show support and pay a visit as often as possible.
Learn how to ensure the comfort of care.